It is May, 2004. I’m at my third E3. THQ is doing some kind of WWE videogame, as it often likes to do. I land interviews with a couple of its big stars, including John Cena.
Remember, we’re in 2004. So this is not John Cena, Incredibly Popular WWE Champion and Movie Star. This is John Cena, Relatively New Guy Who Likes to Rap and Wear Videogame Clothes to the Ring.
Cena’s star was definitely on the rise, but he’s a year away from the championship belt and thus has to sit in a tiny rooms on the E3 show floor and do an interview with some stupid doofus journalist. Carrying my official Kobun Heat-branded messenger bag and wearing a Donkey Kong shirt, I ask him about his love for old videogames, etc.
Finally, I ask: You freestyle really well. Could you do something on the topic of, say, Kobun Heat?
He could, as it happened.
Without skipping a beat, Cena spits out this two-minute rhyme about retro video games. Here are the lyrics, if you’d like to sing along.
This is John Cena, I’m rollin ya’ red
You want the retro videogames, it’s Kobun head
It’s the site with hits
From the days of eight bits and button mashers
Anything else, that’s a straight disaster
We blowin’ it up slow
Like the bootleg Contra code
I got lives to spend, up, down, left, right
Select, start now I’m ready to fight
Like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out
Piston Honda was trouble
Yeah, that’s right, we had to fight him with the double
Glass Joe, yo, I pass it slow
I’m overheatin’ like an Excitebike so let’s go
Throw me to another alley, like Hogan’s
Yo, I’m crazy and the old-school style
I’m throwin’ you straight back to the days
Of 16-color palettes and amazing ways
Like Mega Man, that was the jam, and Mighty Bomb Jack
Yeah, that’s right we takin’ you back
Mess with me and I’m gonna split your soul
I used to cheat the hell out of Tecmo Bowl
Lookin’ at people’s joystick, Up and A button
Yeah, that’s right, my defense was nothin’
Rippin’ through fools like stuffin’, and they face raw
Yo, I used to play RBI Baseball
Tony Armas was nasty, 46 homers
That’s right, yo, we shatter your dome, kid
Yo, we straight Hall of Fame
And my objective is like everybody else, destroy the Mother Brain
Metroid is a pain in the ass like hemmorhoids
It was twisted at the end when the chick was a girl
Yo, I couldn’t defend the rights of Nintendo
But that’s alright, bro
I can still flow on the crazy tip
I remember great games like Urban Champion, you don’t remember that shit
But it was crazy, eight bits, graphics were sick and it was amazin’
I be lacin’ you with the ill flow, this is a freestyle position
Listen while I run like Rad Racer, first placer
Straight hall of fame namer
John Cena, ill kid, straight gamer
I do any frickin’ Nintendo trick
Like the ill 8-bit double cartridge, double click
I blow on it so it works ’cause it used to jump
Yo, I cut your legs off, leave you with a stump
You a straight chump if you ain’t playin’ Nintendo
John Cena, with the ill freestyle flow
Act like you know
(Thanks to Daniel Feit for identifying the name of the baseball player Cena was referencing.)
About halfway through this, the THQ public relations reps started paying close attention. They had no idea he could do this.
Before I left, I had him cut a promo for Kobun Heat — besides being my current Internet handle, it was also my now-defunct early website.
I’m just putting this here as proof it really happened.